Rasheeda Hawk

Removing pollutants and toxins from Los Angeles communities through science and education.



Los Angeles, CA

Affiliations & Roles

Program Director of Syntropy within Commonweal



Dr. Rasheeda Hawk is a biophysicist who works at the intersection of science, education, and health. Though most scientists look at the causes for the pathogenesis of diseases, Dr. Hawk’s research include preventative and restorative measures towards health. Her research focus includes environmental factors that affect health, the well-being of people from the physical down to the molecular levels, and the interface of the two.

As a scientist, Dr. Hawk’s focus is to improve health outcomes across the world. Her research is centered on epigenetics, health disparities and healthy environments. The findings of her research are translated into daily applications. Some of these applications have been used to address health issues such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and child and maternal health in developing countries. Her findings have caught international attention through the interest of the First Lady of Mali and the U.S. Ambassador from Niger.

During one of her research appointments, Dr. Hawk was able to identify epigenetic changes on the breast cancer gene “braca.” Her research findings are promising as they will allow for diagnostic breast cancer screenings to detect the possibility of cancer a decade before breast cancer markers appear in a person’s blood. Dr. Hawk is inspired by the opportunities for healing that will arise as we further explore and learn more about how our environment changes our genes.

As an educator, Dr. Hawk’s focus is to lessen achievement and opportunity gaps by working with African American, Latinx, and first generation college students. With an understanding of how K-12 schools with limited resources leave students vastly under-prepared for college, Dr. Hawk assists other educators in developing relevant STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum and instruction. She also teaches biology, environmental science, physiology and scientific research courses in affordable educational institutions like community colleges.

To further integrate academia with community-centered practices, Dr. Hawk created a “Living Lab” - a real-life innovative space in South Los Angeles, where community members can address a current community problem by developing and testing possible solutions. This Living Lab provides opportunities to teach and mentor young community scientist in particularly a youth ran organization Youth Climate Save South LA. We are currently working on bioremediation/ phytoremediation projects to remove toxins that is detrimental to our well being and to restore soil health


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